Seven pharmaceutical giants and four research institutions have joined forces with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to speed up the discovery of new drugs to treat Tuberculosis (TB).
Under the TB Drug Accelerator (TBDA) partnership, Abbott Laboratories, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Sanofi hope to target the discovery of new TB drugs by collaborating on early-stage research and eventually create a TB drug regimen that cures patients within one month.
The Gates Foundation will contribute $20m to the programme, which will also see the Infectious Disease Research Institute; the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Texas A&M University; and Weill Cornell Medical College work together to develop TB drug candidates.
The partners officially launched the TBDA in April 2012 and have begun the first round of screening for new treatments.
The group of companies aim to develop five new preclinical drug candidates with treatment-shortening potential within five years and proof-of-concept for a one-month, three-drug regimen within 10 years.
Sanofi CEO, Chris Viehbacher, commented on behalf of the pharmaceutical partners: "The TB Drug Accelerator establishes a new paradigm of cooperation in drug discovery."
"By working together on this, we can optimise our research and speed the development of one of the most pressing needs in global health," added Viehbacher.
The news follows numerous recent reports that the number of patients with drug-resistant Tuberculosis is growing.
The UK Health Protection Agency announced last week that the number grew by 26% in 2011.
Image: GlaxoSmithKline is one of the pharmaceutical companies who will look for new TB drug candidates. Image courtesy of: GSK.